Fever Roar Back for First Win
Kennewick, Wash. - In a battle between two teams in need of a big time win, the Tri-Cities Fever (1-6) overcame a 19-point deficit in the forth quarter to defeat the visiting Stockton Lightning (1-5) ; 43-42.
During the first quarter of play, Michael Braunstein (1-3 FG's; 4-5 PATs) added to his Fever single season and career records (10) with a 37-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. After a Stockton touchdown, new QB Ryan Porter (21-45-1-200; 5 TD) drove for five plays and a score as he connected on a 22-yard pass to WR Tremayne Kirkland (8-101; 4 TD).
After Stockton scored for the second consecutive time, the Fever received the ball with under three minutes to play in the first half. Seven plays, 3:06 off the clock and 6-yards later, Porter connected with WR Chase Reed (4-33; 1 TD) to keep the Fever within one score at the break; 16-21.
The third quarter did not bold well for the Fever as they only scored one time with Porter throwing his second touchdown pass to Kirkland from 24-yards out, before Stockton rallied with back-to-back scores once again to increase their lead by 19 points with 14 minutes left in the game.
Then came the two game changing plays that bought the Fever Faithful to their feet. Facing a long third down and a huge weight of an 0-6 start, Porter placed a 19-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone where only Kirkland make a play on the ball to bring the score to 29-42.
Then came the challenge, could the defense make a stop? They answered that call three consecutive times and each time produced the same result; Stockton missed field goal. Coach O'hara saw his defense make big play after big play which in turn triggered the offense.
When the first missed field goal came, DB Ray Little returned the ball 44-yards to put the Fever right back into the redzone. Failure on the first three attempts caused a little bit of tension for everyone in the arena except for the players. Porter and Kirkland hooked up for their forth score to bring the game within one possession.
The second Stockton missed field goal lead to deafening cheers that have not been heard on Gesa Field since May of 2008. Porter connected with JLS Ironman of the Game Chris Hemphill (2-22; 1 TD; 5.0 tackles, 1 Fumble Recovery), who made his first ever af2 start, on a short first down play, but after the 6'5" Rookie bulldozed one defender, he saw nothing but space until he crossed the endzone for the go ahead score. Braunstein's last PAT gave the Fever the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
47.5 seconds left on the clocked turned into 10-plays of heart pounding, show stopping, thundering noise that lead to the same outcome as the previous two Stockton possessions; a missed field goal. Little recovered the miss as the team celebrated their 43-42 vicotry.
Defensively the Fever were lead by Aaron's Defensive player of the Game DL Ben Alexander who accumulated 3.5 total tackles (3.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks) one fumble forced and one fumble recovery.
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